PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A jail property that’s sat vacant for more than a decade could be torn down as its new owner just filed a permit to demolish the Wapato Jail.
More than 20 years ago voters approved a $46 million bond to build the interim facility in the 14000 block of North Bybee Lake Court in Portland.
It was built and dedicated in 2004 but sat vacant since then until county bonds were paid off.
Five months ago developer Jordan Schnitzer bought the property from Multnomah County.
He told FOX 12 in September that he hoped local leaders would join him to use the facility to help the community.
“We don't need to tear this down and build another warehouse. That's our business but I'd rather see this used for public purpose,” Schnitzer said in September.
But just last week he filed for a permit with the City of Portland to demolish the jail amidst community feedback to turn it into a homeless shelter.
He still believes this facility could provide social services.
“Maybe this new program would take care of an additional group of people that would help get people off the street and help get people transitioned back into being productive members of society,” Schnitzer said.
He says he’s currently talking with several providers in the area to come up with the best plan of action for this facility.
“They know this business, they know what could work there, I got a call this afternoon their board has met they're very excited, they want to do more due diligence and they hope to have a proposal fairly soon that would be a very concrete proposal,” Schnitzer said.
And the demolition permit he says is merely a proactive measure.
“I said look, try something if it doesn't work in a year ok we'll tear it down then and build a warehouse,” he said.
That warehouse Schnitzer says would be 325,000 square feet designed for industrial use.
But he’s optimistic that construction won’t happen and instead the purchase would give back to the community.
“Whatever it could do to serve various populations in need fills my heart,” Schnitzer said.
Schnitzer says he’s not ready to make an announcement just yet on plans for the facility but he’s hoping that will come down in the next few weeks.
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